House of Sand and Fog (2003)



Critic Consensus: Powerful and thought provoking film.

Movie Info

Massoud Amir Behrani is living a lie to fulfill a dream. Once a member of the Shah of Iran's elite inner circle, he has brought his family to America to build a new life. Despite a pretense of continued affluence, he is barely making ends meet until he sees his opportunity in the auction of a house being sold for back taxes. It is a terrible mistake. Through a bureaucratic snafu, the house had been improperly seized from its rightful owner, Kathy Lazaro, a self-destructive alcoholic. The loss of … More

Rating: R (for some violence/disturbing images, language and a scene of sexuality)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Andre Dubus III, Shane Otto, Vadim Perelman, Shawn Otto
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 30, 2004
Box Office: $12.9M
DreamWorks SKG - Official Site


as Behrani

as Lester

as Connie Walsh

as Soraya

as Lt. Alvarez

as Little Soraya

as Little Esmail

as Wedding Guest

as Wedding Guest

as Tran

as Kathy's Mom

as County Official

as Locksmith

as Deputy Trainee

as Hotel Security

as Elevator Man

as Elevator Woman

as Auctioneer

as Teenage Girl

as Motel Manager

as Carpenter

as Carpenter

as Appraiser

as Courier

as Husband/Buyer

as Wife/Buyer

as Bethany

as Frank

as Gas Station Worker

as Arresting Officer

as Arresting Officer

as Prison Guard

as Officer at End

as Young Husband

as Wedding Singer

as Wedding Singer

as Wedding Singer
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for House of Sand and Fog

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Critic Reviews for House of Sand and Fog

All Critics (179) | Top Critics (39)

The vivid clarity of the images, the compressed fury of the tale, are impossible to get out of your head.

Full Review… | November 1, 2007
Top Critic

Perelman and his long-suffering stars make a spectacle of pain, but fail to register any lighter notes, while the denouement seems calculated to wring out every last tear.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

If "House of Sand and Fog" ultimately feels like a failed exercise, it has less to do with Perelman's limitations than with a book that would have been better served by staying on the page.

Full Review… | September 26, 2005
Washington Post
Top Critic

Connelly, who has often mistaken posing for acting, digs deep here; Aghdashloo ... gives us a portrait of a woman who is both dutiful to her husband and ravaged by his iron will. Kingsley is most impressive of all.

Full Review… | August 7, 2004
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

Serious and thoughtful; for mature teens+.

Full Review… | December 24, 2010
Common Sense Media

A lack of empathetic characters cripples this poorly paced but well acted drama about an Iranian family who purchase a city-auctioned bungalow in Northern California after its former tenant has been unjustly evicted.

Full Review… | May 9, 2009

Audience Reviews for House of Sand and Fog

"I have taken us so far off our course, but now it is time to return. It is time for us to go home to our destiny."

There are no good or bad characters in House of Sand and Fog. Just a lot of flawed individuals who seem to unintentionally make matters worse at every turn. This isn't a feel-good movie, to say the least.

The story is about a conflict over a house that is very important to several different people. The woman that it originally belongs to is wrongfully evicted from it, and it ends up being sold to an exiled Iranian man who needs the house as part of a plan to provide for his family. An unimaginable amount of conflict and tragedy ends up resulting from this unfortunate situation.

I'm an avowed fan of these kinds of dour dramas. House of Sand and Fog has all the emotional power of a movie like Revolutionary Road or Little Children, without the heavy-handed preachiness of Crash. This movie isn't trying to teach you anything or tug on your heartstrings, it's just a well-told story about tragedy. Combine that with solid writing, a good score, and a great cast (lead by Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley), and you have a movie that is a fine example of the drama genre.

Lewis C.

Super Reviewer


An extremely powerful film. Kingsley gives a performance that should be up with the bests of all-time, where Connelly, strikingly beautiful, gives an Oscar-worth one as well. A deep story that is rich in characterization as well as with things such as material possessions and how much we place value in them. A heck of a depressing story with people who are extremely troubled and have very few redeeming qualities, but in the end it really makes you take a strong look on how much you place value on items, such as a simple house, and the effects these possessions can have on your life.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer


Solemn and well-directed drama, about a family who gets in bitter conflict with the previous owner of their newly bought house. The first half is pretty slow, but it builds up tension well for what happens in the second, where things really shift into high gear. One thing I really appreciated about the film, was the fact that it was very hard to predict the final outcome of the plot. That, along with its superb acting and refined script, makes it into an above-average drama, and one I'd gladly recommend. Be aware though that it's very tragic in tone. So if you're looking for something cheerful with a happy end, you may want to look elsewhere.

Mike S

Super Reviewer

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